My husband is obsessed with sitcoms, and Seinfeld is definitely on the list. There’s an episode where babka plays a big role, which is one thing I think of when I think of this recipe- “Lesser babka? I think not!”
Anyways, if you don’t watch the show, that was probably nonsense to you. The bigger reason I love babka, though, is that I am carb-obsessed. If you’re here, you probably are too. It’s cool, this is a safe space for us bread lovers.
Basically, babka is typically a sweet number, but today we’re switching it up a bit. Normally you’ve got lots of layers of a dense yeast bread and some kind of gooey chocolate or cinnamon filling, and let me tell you, that version of things is fan-freakin-tastic. But sometimes you need a little bit of savory bread too.
The way this recipe works is by rolling your dough super thin. It rises while baking, so even though the dough feels super delicate while you work on filling and shaping it, the result is perfect.
Since pesto has both olive oil and cheese for moisture, it offers a very similar texture to your traditional babka recipes as well. More importantly, I love pesto.
Baking bread at a high altitude is tough you guys. I get it. Baking in general is much more complicated at altitude, but when you spend hours letting bread rise, and shaping it, and letting it rise again, only to end up with something you don’t want to eat?? It’s suuuper disappointing.
Here’s my biggest tip for bread at a high altitude- watch the dough, not the clock. When I realized I was over-proofing most of my bread doughs, everything got better.
Make the pesto babka. It’ll work, it’ll taste awesome, and it’ll impress you’re friends.
1/2 cup pesto (use whatever you like best here- homemade or jarred)
Butter a large bowl generously, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups bread flour, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside.
Heat your whole milk in the microwave until it reaches 115 degrees.
Stir the sugar into the whole milk, and then stir in the yeast. Let the mixture sit and bloom for 5-10 minutes, or until it's bubbly and frothy.
In a large bowl, stir together the eggs and melted butter.
Add the yeast mixture into the egg mixture, and stir to combine.
Add in the flour mixture, and stir until combined, and a dough has formed.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour as needed, for about 5 minutes. The dough will be fairly stiff.
Place the dough into your buttered bowl. For the first rise, you want the dough to double in size. For me, this takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, but you should keep a close eye on your dough after 30 minutes. Do not let the dough rise to more than double in size.
Remove the dough from your bowl, and roll it out on a floured surface.
You want the dough to be very thin, 1/8-1/4 inch thick, and in the shape of a large rectangle. Since the dough will be a bit elastic, this may take some working.
Spread your pesto evenly over the entire rectangle, all the way to the edges.
Lightly grease a loaf pan, and set aside.
Begin to roll your dough, very tightly, like you would a cinnamon roll, starting on one of the shorter sides of your rectangle.
Once you have the dough completely rolled up, slice the roll in half length-wise.
Twist the two halves together, lightly pinching each end together.
Place the dough into your prepared loaf pan, and cover.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and let the dough rest for 25-30 minutes. The dough should rise during this time just slightly, by about 1/3 at most.
Bake the dough uncovered for 40-45 minutes. If you notice the bread becoming too brown on top, cover with foil for the remaining bake time.
Using an instant-read thermometer, the inside of your dough should reach about 165-170 degrees on the inside when it is finished baking.
Remove from the oven, and cool completely in the pan. Slice, and enjoy!